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New Porsche 911 ups horsepower, reins in gas

March 12, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
One of Porsche's most recognizable models has received a redesign. The new Porsche 911 may look familiar, but it's all new, more powerful and includes gas-saving technology.

The Porsche 911 has a distinctive shape that gives it away.

"Porsche is 911; 911 is Porsche," said veteran author and photographer Randy Leffingwell.

The all-new version of Porsche's fabled sports car has been released. Most every part of it is new, but it still does (and was required to) look like a 911. That was the order from management to the designers.

"We want everyone to know it's a 911. But we want everyone to know it's the new 911," said Leffingwell.

Leffingwell's latest book chronicles the history of the 911, an iconic car from the get-go.

"It is the two forms: It is the curving front fender, and it's the long, curving roof line," said Leffingwell. "And you can identify a 911 in a dark parking lot late at night, lights off, you can identify the form from half a mile away."

Part of the new design means, unfortunately, you can't see the engine. There's just an access cover to allow for fluid checks. But the traditional Porsche "flat-six" is smaller, yet more powerful than the previous one, with 350 horsepower. The new higher-priced and higher performance S model gets you 400.

Being a modern 911 means a car that has to deal with things like fuel-efficiency and emissions. The 911 S, which is the more powerful version is rated at 20 city miles and 27 highway miles per gallon. For a super sports car, that's pretty amazing.

As the 911 moves forward into the future, efficiency counts. Porsche even adopted a fuel-saving technology first seen on hybrid start-stop technology. The engine can turn off when you're stopped. As soon as you move, it restarts.

But when it's time to really move, the 911 does just as it always has.

Sure it's expensive: the regular version starts at more than $80,000, and the S model with options can easily top six figures.

But through the years, the 911 has endured, even outlasting other Porsche models that were intended to replace it. The car and its shape live on. And probably will indefinitely.